I went to my first ever Bachata class, it’s opposite the Dancehouse, very convenient and familiar ground for me. From the outside it’s an ordinary building but the top floor has two decent-sized dance/gym studios, it’s nicer than I expected.
There was no introduction, no quick run-down of class schedule. We went straight into the warm-up, I had no idea what to expect. The crowd was a variety of average people. I mention this because I’ve been accustomed to classical dancing (Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet) where a level of fitness is required, it’s a different environment I guess. Although looks can be deceiving, but the latin flavour attracts certain type of men you won’t find in the classes I usually go to. My soft nature was telling in a ‘macho’ environment, that’s a good thing right? I need to express more in Flamenco and a latin dance can enhance my confidence. Social dancing is a completely different beast – from what I can remember, it’s about making sure the lady is enjoying her dance – and less about my own self-expression. Is this correct? Personally I still prefer the self-reliance in classical dancing. If that makes sense?
I was ok with the footwork (simple shuffles), turns, plus a lot of hips included. Didn’t take me long to find the old salsa groove, it was nice to dance with different partners again. They were all kind and courteous. Except for one. For my first Bachata lesson I think I did well – this lady however, in her pretty dress, didn’t smile, didn’t talk, didn’t make eye contact, and basically couldn’t wait to switch partner – as if she was too good for me. I thought… she’s in Beginners, how good can a Beginner be? I’m not bothered about her thoughts, I just didn’t like the rudeness and lack of focus in our dance – isn’t there an unwritten rule to treat your partner with civility and respect? Isn’t it good etiquette to say thank you? Instead, she turned and walked off. It’s rude! She’s the type of person who can put off a shy beginner from returning to class. If I was the teacher and spotted that, I’d move her up to Intermediate, she might enjoy it more there. Guess what, she didn’t stay for Intermediate.
The hour flew by. I had fun! I’ve been reminded of my weakness in leading, though I find some partners are easier to lead – there’s an element of trust, I needed more conviction in my movements – once I’m in the flow, it’s fine! I don’t have much technique on my arms and hands, I never learned the subtleties of the grip – that’s the detail missing. There’s so much I can deconstruct, I tried to ask questions but they sound stupid… details are so important, it’s the little things. Anyone can do big steps or learn to co-ordinate, it’s the little soft gesturing that’s so important in leading – it’s like trying to find an indicator for a car. Same thing! You lead by suggesting what is coming next… I definitely need to work on that.
The teacher disappeared and I had no idea what was going on, some danced and a majority started chatting and checking their phones. I was just keen to dance! I thought it was weird that no-one was looking to dance in a dance class! I asked a couple of girls and they happily obliged, I’d like to think they enjoyed my haphazard interpretation of Bachata!
A new person came in and people lined up, a few of us had no idea what was going on – the warm-up footwork looked fun so I joined in! It was halfway through the lesson before one of the organisers told me it was an Improvers class! Another hour passed easily, we learned a very sexy arm/spinning combo, something I’ve seen in Salsa but never had the chance to learn. It was challenging and much more fun! Only the last part threw me off a bit, my arms and legs didn’t co-operate as much, not had enough time to memorise the move – a tiny hiccup in two hours isn’t bad!
I didn’t talk to any of the men, they all looked a bit serious, we just shared the space! Maybe it’s the male posturing, something I’d never understand. I paid £6 for the first lesson and offered to pay for the second too, it’s an honest thing to do, I just fell into the class. I know dancers have to make a living so I did the right thing. That’s £12 for tw0 hours, ouch!
What are the teachers like?
Both the guys were friendly, but that’s it. Some people are approachable – I don’t think they were, that’s my impression. I’ve seen my fair share of dance teachers, I know how to tell them apart. Then again, they don’t know me. They might be thinking I’m just another one-off guy? I don’t know, the lady organiser, possibly Anne was very nice and friendly – I appreciated that.
Would I come back?
There were enough things to tempt me back either on Wednesdays or Fridays. Now that Flamenco is on a break until September (noooo!), I could fit Wednesdays in, can try this before Salsa. I did like the size of the class, and the teaching was ok. I definitely need to keep going to form a better opinion. There’s nothing wrong with the set-up, the only gripe I had was the dancing partner – but that’s not their fault. Yes, I had a good time and it’s a cute class that I would like to see more of.